Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

"Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded" (2 John 3-4).

"Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the brothers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth" (3 John 2-4).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Contentment slays the dragon

A wise friend told me of a time when he wrestled intensely with the leviathan of lust. He lived in beach country, where scantily clad people were in no short supply.

By God’s grace, he never acted upon his adulterous thoughts. But, as a married man, he marveled at how violently these “youthful lusts” churned in his mind (2 Tim. 2:22). He loved his faithful wife. She was his ministry partner and dearest friend. He was ashamed of the lustful thoughts stewing in his heart.

After a long period of confessing his sin to the LORD, he finally confessed to his wife. She recommended they pray together for the Lord Jesus to reveal the root of his struggle. After prayer, searching Scripture, and intentional listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice, the root became clear.

He was discontent with the wife the LORD had given him. She experienced some health issues that made the sexual part of their relationship difficult. He confessed his discontentment as sin, agreed with Christ that his relationship with his wife was a wonderful gift, and repented. He experienced a renewal of contentment, and the serpent of his lust was slain.

For many, the root of lust may be discontentment with singleness. To follow Jesus as a single is to be single-heartedly devoted to Him. It is the opportunity to unreservedly pursue intimacy with Jesus. Christ-focused singleness enables a believer to mature into the man or woman the LORD desires and, in so doing, prepare for the possibility of marriage.

The Bible calls believers the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:6-9). His followers are not available to lust and adulterate ourselves to sin. We belong to Jesus. He is our First Love (Rev. 2:4-5).

Every sin can be traced back to a root that needs to be weeded out—discontentment, pride, doubt, idolatry, among others.

Guard your contentment in Jesus by preaching to your self, praying this issue through, confessing it aloud: “I am content in Christ. I find my complete fulfillment and have my every need met in Him alone!” When we rest content in Jesus, we drive a cross-shaped stake through the heart of the dragon that is our doubt and sin.

St. George and the Dragon, by Briton Riviere (public domain)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Did God really say...?

“Did God really say…?” hissed the slimy serpent with fork tongue tickling the ears of the unsuspecting beauty. Tantalized, Eve smiled and was deceived. Adam stood nearby, watching wide-eyed. Knowing the consequences, he willfully believed the lie and ate the forbidden fruit.

That snake is still whispering sugarcoated lies. Satan, the deceiver, loves to take a little bite of truth and coat it with venomous deception.

Eve should have responded, “No! I will not stand in judgment over God’s Word. You’re twisting and perverting what He said! His Word is my final authority.”

Instead Eve took the devil’s bait and deemed herself the authority to decide between God’s Word and the devil’s word. She was unconcerned with the specifics of God’s Word and their application to her practice. The serpent had gotten the general gist of what the LORD had spoken. Eve chose to believe an outside source above the direct revelation of God. She decided she knew better than the LORD.

Professing Christians fall into the same trap by claiming to love and honor the Bible and then disobeying it. When you allow the lens of your human experience to define your interpretation of His Word, you allow external sources to trump God’s utterances. 

This fleshes out all over Christian belief and practice. Concerning spiritual gifts, “normal” is what we experience in America and not what the Bible describes. Some explain away the Biblical doctrine of a literal, physical Hell, because it’s unpleasant to think and preach about. And the Biblical mandate to pursue holiness is forgotten by those, who claim, “Well, we’ll always fall into sin, right?” For the sake of the golden calf, pragmatism, many deny the authority of the Word. The question “Does it work?” is asked more often than “Does it please Jesus?”

I’ll zero in on a specific example. Learn the principle, and apply it to all areas of your life.

“Did God really say, ‘Share your faith with the woman sitting next to you’?” hissed the serpent to the Christian on the El train. After all, you haven’t established a relationship. She hasn’t observed your lifestyle. She might be offended.

True, the Bible urges believers to genuinely relate to others as human beings. People are treasures—created in the Image of God—not projects. In the context of a witnessing conversation, the Bible models asking questions and listening (Acts 8:30-35). Genuinely care. Don’t prepare your rebuttal while others speak. Listen.

Evangelism isn’t true to its definition unless it includes using words to directly share the good news of the Gospel. Evangel means, “good news." Our excuse that we’re sharing through our lifestyle doesn’t hold a thimbleful of water. We’ve allowed a deception to climb into bed with us.

“You’ve got to wait at least two months before you share the Gospel,” hissed the serpent. That’s absurd! Christ is my life. I can’t go two minutes without mentioning the Name of Jesus!

Remember Paul? He became all things to all people that by all possible means he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22-23). It’s because of Paul’s active, verbal witness to the Gentiles that most of us non-Jews have access to the Gospel today. Paul preached in the open-air at the Areopagus meeting, he had Gospel conversations on public transport, he shared Jesus at family gatherings, he wrote and distributed Gospel literature.

Most people recognize genuine concern. Sometimes it’s surprising to receive it, but most often, people love to be loved. Showing concern for someone’s eternal salvation in a Gospel conversation is an expression of the most excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31; 13).

You’re not loving, if you let someone go to Hell unwarned. You don’t really have your eyes fixed on Jesus, if you don’t see people as valuable and in need of Christ. Charles Spurgeon said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.”

There’s a small nugget of truth in relational evangelism. But according to Mark Cahill, 88% of witnessing conversations in the New Testament were with strangers ( You may not know how to share your faith. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit in you will drive you to learn how. He’ll teach you about Jesus and guide you into all truth (Jn. 16:13-14).

Believe the truth of the Bible—God’s literal, inerrant, authoritative Word—above all methods, ideas, and doctrines of men or devils no matter how “pleasing to the eye and good for food” they may appear (Gen. 2:9).

(Visit — an evangelism ministry that the Lord Jesus has used to better equip me in Christ-like, Biblical witnessing.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A call for discernment of God’s will

Junior year at our public high school, English class included a unit on media and society. I was surprised when my teacher, a Christ-follower, showed an episode of a popular cartoon television comedy.

It was appalling. The pseudo-humor denigrated women, depicted soft-core porn, cursed, blasphemed the Lord’s Name, badmouthed family, dishonored parents, and spit in authority’s face.

Suddenly, I realized my teacher’s wisdom: what a clear way to portray the poisonous effects of ungodly media on society. I couldn’t wait for group discussion; now my classmates would certainly understand.

However, to my utter dismay, the majority confessed they enjoyed the episode and hoped we’d watch another next class. After all, “it might not be good for children, but it’s perfectly fine for me.” I was troubled by their double standard.

Most of these class members were not believers in Jesus. But many professing Christians similarly lack discernment. It’s disgusting and dangerous.

In Philippians 4:8-9, the Holy Spirit speaks through Paul: if it's true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy let it into your head, so you can think about it (vs. 8). Whether you like it or not, what you let in your head sinks down into your heart and begins to flow out in what you say and do. If you put Christ-honoring things into your head and into practice, God will be with you (vs. 9).

Should the Philippians passage serve as a filter for Jesus-followers? That depends on whether or not you want God to be near to you. It depends on how much you desire to walk closely within His will for your life.

Christian liberty and grace are not licenses to love the things of the world, pursue youthful lusts, or naively believe everything we hear (Rom. 6:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:22). I’m sounding the alarm and calling for discernment.

Discernment is not only required for entertainment choices. It enables believers to judge teaching and counsel. We must hold every truth claim up to the standard of the Bible, as the Bereans did (1 Thes. 5:21). They didn’t even take Paul’s word for it; they tested his teaching according to God’s written Word (Acts 17:11). We should not believe all we hear. We cannot do everything unbelievers do.

If you follow Christ, ensure His message is never compromised. Guarding your heart yields a clear mind to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice (Prov. 4:23). Then you can discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). When you discern His will, you ready yourself to carry it out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Receive God the Holy Spirit

“Oh, Marcus!” exclaimed my roommate, barreling into our dorm room. “My professor said something you would love. He started class by saying, ‘The Trinity is not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Bible. We cannot neglect the Holy Spirit!’”

I smiled. My roommate was right. I do long for professing believers to stop grieving and neglecting the Holy Spirit. Too bad after that class, the professor never mentioned the Holy Spirit again. Must have slipped his mind.

Due to the excesses of some, many professing Christians fear the Holy Spirit and His manifestations. Sure, they might not admit it outright or use that exact wording, but they resist Him.

Reactionary living is deadly. We must always draw our theology from the Bible, not experience. We must embrace the Word and the Spirit.

It must be remembered that Holy Spirit is a co-equal member of the Trinity, the promise of the Father, the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 2:33; 16:7). The Holy Spirit is God (5:3-4). Forgetting Him is a form of blasphemy.

More than a century ago, A.J. Gordon of the Student Volunteer Movement questioned, "Have we forgotten that there is a Holy Ghost, that we must insist upon walking on crutches when we might fly?"

Many of the disorders plaguing believers today—fear, stagnancy, anemic faith—result from neglecting the integral role of Jesus’ Spirit. Christ said it would be better for us when He left, because He would send the Spirit (Jn. 16:7-15). By His Spirit, we will do greater works than Jesus did (Jn. 14:12). Without Him, we’re dead. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit yields His fruit, holiness, power, and passion for the lost (Gal. 5:22-26; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 1:8).

It’s remarkable. When Jesus came in flesh, He was not recognized (Jn. 1:10-11). Now that He’s sent His Spirit, mankind has given Him the same cold-shoulder treatment.

Most great people of faith have a common element in their testimonies, a personal empowering encounter with the Holy Spirit. Think about Torrey, Tozer, Ravenhill, and Moody. Seeking to experience God is utterly Biblical. We should starve to hear His voice and pant for His nearness.

I issue a challenge: set aside some time in the coming days for a vital appointment. Put it on your calendar. “Meet with Holy Spirit.” Ask Jesus for His Holy Spirit and don’t stop asking until He comes. How will you know when He shows up? Oh, you’ll know. He will bring His gifts and His power for your witness. You'll never be the same again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be fully dependent

“Dependence is a dirty word.” That summarizes several comments posted on my Facebook status. My status read, “In life, you have two choices: either become independent or fully dependent on Jesus.”

The unbelieving world deems the college years a period when youth should become independent. As usual, the world is wrong.

I, a dependent college student, wager the college years are an opportunity to become utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus. Yes, students usually leave home and family; In Chicago, I’m 600 miles away from mine. Sure, they often become self supporting, more responsible and mature. Of course, battle plans and personal goals are refined. However, independence should never be the aim of a Jesus-follower. He calls His disciples to complete reliance on Him.

Christ-loving students should expect college to be a stretching, painful experience wherein the Lord of Glory trims the fat from their lives. I propose God does this on purpose. That way, absolute surrender to Jesus and connection with the Body of Christ arise as the only antidotes to our need.

Let’s euthanize the myth that students should church hop and sample as many local assemblies as possible. Plug in. Be dependent on Christ’s Body. Be faithful. Commit yourself to a local church family as soon as possible. You’ll be obedient to Jesus and set yourself up to experience the operation of spiritual gifts in the context He intended.

If I aim to become dependent on Christ, I must learn to redeem the time for “the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Every second two people die, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Unless of course, I surrender to Jesus and in the power of His Spirit declare the Gospel in and out of season, making the most of every opportunity (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:2).

A dependent disciple of Christ is driven by the will of God and not the needs of man. One who attempts to meet everybody’s needs commits ministerial suicide. Those who depend on Jesus must be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s voice minute to minute and do what He says.

I am dependent on the only Source, who can always provide (Take that, the world, the flesh, and the Devil!). And I plan to keep growing in that dependence until the day I see Him, Face to face.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fleshing out faith

“Let’s quit our jobs and sell our houses,” they exclaimed with childlike joy. “No more sorrow. No more pain. Soon that’ll all be behind us!” They were certain about it. Jesus would be returning that very year, and the followers of Edgar C. Whisenant had 88 reasons neatly organized in a pamphlet to prove it. With their worldly possessions forsaken, little pamphlets in hand, and their eyes fixed on the heavens, they gathered expectantly to watch and wait.

That was 1988. They were wrong.

Some may scoff, “How stupid they were! Hadn’t they heard, ‘No one knows the day nor the hour’?” Whisenant, a Bible student and former rocket scientist, apparently miscalculated. Though I admire their zeal, they lacked much knowledge. Nuggets of truth can be mined from their foolish mistake. First off, a true believer in Jesus ought to be expectant.

Do Jesus’ followers read the Bible with the newspaper in their other hand? Is there expectation for Christ to fulfill His promises? Do we believe His Word enough that we look for its fulfillment in the news? Is the Bible followed as a treasure map (After all, a cross marks the spot where life-giving treasure is found.)? Or is it stored on a dusty shelf and treated like an obsolete history textbook?

If the Word is alive, then it must be practiced daily. Jesus lives; let’s live accordingly.

With age, human beings become either stagnant ponds of knowledge or channels of living water. The difference lies in minute-to-minute obedience to the Holy Spirit. Intimacy with Jesus cultivates a life of freedom wherein Bible truth is continuously applied. I'm living it. I can attest. It's dynamic, on fire, and soaked through with love.

Believers should not try to guess the year Christ will return. But genuine belief in the Bible will produce a lifestyle that declares, “He’s coming back today!” Those who claim to live in Him “must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:6). Join me! Let’s flesh out our faith.